14 October, 2011

Learning to fly...

The foot of a Myrtle Beech tree
The final leg of our grand tour of the Otways was to visit the Otway Fly. This is a unique, tourist-oriented venture which - as is pointed out at the gate - generates a far greater income for its area than logging could ever do.It is located a short drive from the township of Beech Forest where we stopped for lunch prior to hitting the Fly.
The name of this town is not so much a name as a description really, as the surrounding bushland, unlike the eucalypt-dominated landscapes we had so far driven and walked through, consists primarily of Myrtle Beech in its upper story - as I was about to see rather close up. I gather that these trees are native to Victoria and Tasmania and are found in temperate rainforest environments. And this area certainly fit the description. We paid our entry and decided not on this occasion to take the adrenaline-filled, but rather pricey option of a zip line tour during which one is propelled between the trees via an elaborate flying fox arrangement and opted instead to go on foot. The initial part of the walk is at ground level amongst the Myrtle Beech, tree ferns and a variety of other moisture-loving species of plants with which I am not familiar.
Otway Fly treetop walk
One small boy I could mention was particularly impressed with the display of dinosaurs to be seen amongst the undergrowth as we made our way down the path.  Sign posts explained some of the flora and fauna and pointed out some of the more impressive examples of the former to be seen along the path - such as the above tree.
From here, we stepped out onto the treetop walk - a steel walkway standing 30m above ground level and extending for 600m through the upper foliage of the forest.
If you are even slightly prone to vertigo, then this probably isn't the walk for you. I have no such qualms and was happy to be impressed by the view below and then to climb the viewing tower which rises a further 17m above the walkway.
View below from the treetop walkway
After descending, the next nerve test is to walk out to the end of a cantilever span which hangs out over the forest below. The views are impressive to say the least.
From here we continued to wind our way through the canopy back to the path at ground level and from there, trekked back up the hill to our starting point - with of course, another detour via the dinosaurs.
A further interesting little point in our journey was a creek running below the walk. It was helpfully explained that this one - Young's Creek, named for the grandfather of local running legend Cliff Young - was one of the hundreds of creeks which rise along the Otway Ridge. From there, depending on which side of the ridge they fall, they make their way into rivers such as the Barwon. This particular example makes its way to the nearby Triplet Falls
Tree ferns from above
Here, once again, we failed to see a platypus or for that matter any of the aquatic life reputed to live in the creek - maybe next time. What we did see once again was an amazing array of mosses, lichens, molds and fungi an example of which is below.
I was as usual on the lookout for the local bird life, however the significant amount of undergrowth in the forest is rather conducive to hiding any number of small birds, so whilst I could hear them all around, there were few to be seen.
And so we came to the end of the walk and much to the consternation of one queasy stomach, headed once again for the hills, and those winding roads...

Moss and lichen dripping off every available

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